Women Helping Women: Celebrating Mentoring Monday with the Kansas City Business Journal

By Joy Wheeler, CEO

They say the best leaders are always looking for their replacements. They share their strength, and they help pull others up. But examples of that are sometimes hard to showcase in what can sometimes be a divisive world. Strong mentoring programs and opportunities like the Mentoring Monday event today helps support and encourage the next generation of leaders.

Bizwomen’s Mentoring Monday – February 24, 2020
In that spirit, Girl Scouts was proud to be a national sponsor for all Bizwomen’s Mentoring Monday events across the country. Did you know that the Kansas City event is the largest with more than 400 who attended today? What a thrill to bring some of our Girl Scouts to this incredible event where they joined with other women to participate in table discussions with topics like time management or how to effectively communicate your message. Following these discussions, our Girl Scouts participated in one-on-one speed coaching sessions with some of the most influential women in the local business community. The atmosphere was spirited and powerful as everyone gained career insights and made new connections.

Mentoring only enhances what a Girl Scout brings to the table 

  • Did you know that Girl Scouts are twice as likely to have a bachelor’s degree?
  • Did you know that Girl Scouts earn 23% more than other women?
  • Did you know that Girl Scouts are more likely to pursue STEM careers, become civic leaders and own businesses?

Yes, all true! The Girl Scouts I had the honor to bring with me today include a Gold Award (the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn after researching, planning and implementing a sustainable project benefitting her community or beyond) Alum who is in her second year of medical school; three 2020 Gold Award Girl Scouts – one will be headed to Michigan State in the fall to pursue a degree in logistics and supply chain management, another a junior in high school and already planning her college path to be in engineering and the other graduating high school early and looking toward a future path pursuing a psychology degree. Two of our Girl Scouts are future Gold Award Girl Scouts and are high achieving in every aspect from their educational accomplishments to their advocacy for others. I was so proud to watch these leaders soak up every moment and connect with inspiring women across our community. Today is what it is all about – standing up for girls, supporting and mentoring the next generation of our world’s leaders!

Joy Wheeler (center) wiht the Girl Scout attendees of the Mentoring Mondays event in Kansas City.

What our next generation says about the power of mentoring

The following quotes are from our Girl Scouts who attended today.

“I love hearing about her leadership journey, how she got there, tips and what you have to push through to accomplish your career goals.”

“The advice I loved and will carry with me is to always be curious and be your own advocate.”

“You don’t always have to be perfect. Don’t say no to something just because you think you don’t have every single skill listed. Don’t be afraid to fail and learn from it.”

Powerful mentoring happens every day
Girl Scouts connects girls with businesses and organizations in our community for opportunities and experiences lead by female role models. She experiences STEAM, Entrepreneurship, Civic Engagement and Outdoor Adventure. Girls can decide for THEMSELVES what their future career options can be. She gains the courage, confidence and character to move gender bias and stereotypes aside in pursuit of HER dream.

Unleash the power of girls
We have a collective responsibility to support the next generation of leaders. Women and girls make up 51% of the population. And when we unleash our power by supporting one another fully, we become the change we need to see in the world. That’s why Girl Scouts ARE the 51% solution! Join with us and stand up for girls!

Reaching for the Stars: Girl Scout Destination – Alyssa R.

As a Girl Scout, you learn to shoot for the stars and excel in your passions. Girl Scout Senior, Alyssa R., a 10th grader in Olathe, KS, decided to go for the stars in an exciting Astronomy Destinations experience during the summer of 2019! Alyssa met 9 other Girl Scouts from around the country in Oregon to find out what it means travel like a Girl Scout.

Alyssa began her Girl Scout experience as a Daisy Girl Scout in North Carolina before moving to Kansas City and joining the troop she’s still with as a Junior. “For me, Girl Scouts lets me meet a wide community of people who all think differently,” Alyssa said – something that has helped her see other perspectives throughout her life. One of her favorite things about being a Girl Scout has been the outdoor and STEM experiences she’s been able to have – including a rock climbing camping adventure in Arkansas as part of one of our council trips. That led her to wanting to explore more with Girl Scouts and she soon found that a Destination would be the best option.

The application process was one that Alyssa prepared for and later found out that her preparation and thoughtful answers helped her get accepted. “The staff talked to us about our essays and gave us back what we wrote, then told us that we all put in more than the basics, which helped us get selected. We put in why we wanted to do it, why we were interested in astronomy and a STEM career,” Alyssa said. This experience helped her get a taste of what college applications will be like and now knows she has an edge after hearing about what stood out to the staff.

After being accepted, Alyssa made her way to Oregon and toured the coast, which included a stop at Seaside Beach. The group arrived at Pine Mountain Observatory for STEM activities and camped for 5 days Deschutes National Forest. Over the course of 9 days, in addition to camping, the girls did constellation walks, volunteered at two public observation nights, learned about wavelengths, performed several experiments and even went white water rafting! Overall, the experience let her try new things, meet new friends and get a feel for what a career in astronomy might look like.

During the Destination, she met Girl Scouts from all over the country and they still have a very active group chat. She also walked away with a new appreciation for her passion for astronomy and the confidence of travelling without parents or friends. “A Destination is a great thing to experience at this age since it’s nice to learn to travel without parents or friends to rely on,” Alyssa said.

She would encourage other Girl Scouts to “find a Destination that interests you…and just go for it!” Her biggest tip is “[…]be truthful in what your interests are, express interest [on the application] and proofread your submissions,” said Alyssa. We love those tips and know they’ll help other Girl Scouts rock those Destinations applications – and maybe some college or job applications too!  Thanks, Alyssa, for sharing your awesome Girl Scout Destinations experience!

Are you interested in a Girl Scout destination? Check out some of the awesome places Girl Scouts travel and get ready for the next round of the application process!

Finding Herself in the Wilderness: Autumn’s Girl Scout Destination Story

When you’re an outdoor focused Girl Scout, there’s nothing more exciting than traveling halfway across the country to one of the most beautiful national parks in the world! That’s exactly what Girl Scout Ambassador, Autumn S. from Leawood, Kansas did when she was accepted into the Maine Wilderness Destination during the summer of 2019!

Autumn applied for the Destination after learning about the awesome opportunities Girl Scouts offered for travel. Rather than preparing her answers separately, she sat down and completed the application and essay at once, really thinking about her answers and writing from the heart. “I was just in a writing groove and just did it all at once, I knew what I wanted to say,” Autumn said with a smile.

That passion ended up getting her accepted into the program and she traveled to Maine to meet up with 10 other Girl Scouts from around the country for a 12-day experience she’ll never forget. Over the course of the 12 days the girls camped at Camp Natarswi, a Girl Scout camp in Maine, sitting at the base of Mt. Katahdin. Autumn had two experiences that challenged her in different ways, the easier one being the ice caves that they ventured to. It was a short hike away and she had some great teambuilding experiences with that challenge because the girls had to help each other cross the ice.

The second adventure Autumn experienced was definitely a challenge – summiting Mt. Katahdin. Thanks to great staff leadership the girls were able to conquer the summit, with a fun little chant of “What are we going to do? SUMMIT!” along the way. Those staff members, especially Scrapper and Steve, helped her have a really amazing and empowering experience. “Looking back, I’m able to say, ‘wow, I really did that,’” Autumn said. In addition to those adventures, the group also got to go white water rafting and camp with new friends.

Autumn returned to KC with a new friend group (with an active group chat) and new confidence that has led her to new opportunities. “I applied for the Teen Leadership Circle at the Council and I’m not sure I would have done that if I hadn’t gone on the Destination,” Autumn said. She believes that this Destination experience helped her become a more confident person and encourages other Girl Scouts to give it a shot.

“Girl Scouts has great experiences that it’s hard to get anywhere else. With a Destination, there are so many trips, you can find what’s right for you. Just go and have fun. You never know what you’ll find,” Autumn said. Now that Autumn has had an amazing Destinations experience, her next big Girl Scout adventure is looking toward her Gold Award. She completed a Silver Award by painting chairs for Solace House and using funds she raised for this project. This Girl Scout is certainly going places! Thank you, Autumn, for sharing your amazing journey! Are you interested in a Girl Scout destination? The next application deadline is February 15!

Holiday Volunteering that Counts

By GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler

Holiday music, religious observances and all the lights tend to get most people thinking charitably this time of year. And while some organizations rely on extra volunteers and contributions during November and December, most of them need help year-round.

Have you thought about where your own instincts to volunteer and contribute came from? I suspect many of you can trace your earliest philanthropy exposure to the Girl Scouts – whether you were a Girl Scout or watched your mom, your sisters or your classmates in action. I couldn’t wait for the holiday season to arrive when I would join my Girl Scout sisters to spread cheer with carols, crafts, conversation and treats with our community’s nursing home residents.

Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri communities benefit greatly from the contributions of Girl Scouts. Our 22,000 girls gave an average of 30 hours each this year, doing things like helping with environmental cleanup, supporting pet adoption organizations, holding food drives, collecting personal care items, making sandwiches for the homeless, and attacking hunger with the Harvesters. And yes, they’ll step those efforts up in December, with caroling, nursing home visits and special cards for veterans.

Girl Scouts at Harvesters giving back to our community!

All told, they’ll give more than 600,000 hours this year. And what do you think would happen if those hours went away? How would that impact our most vulnerable populations? Ultimately, how would the absence of this experience change the way the next generation of women operates in their communities?

The leaders at Harvesters – The Community Food Network – can give you an idea. Girl Scouts were responsible for about 1 of every 50 volunteer hours during the agency’s last fiscal year. According to their Communications Manager Gene Hallinan, Harvesters depends on Girl Scouts. “Without them, we would have to hire more staff and would not be able to reach the number of people we do today.”

What’s more, through multiple events with Harvesters throughout the year, Girl Scouts get an education on the challenge of hunger. With hands-on programs like Maddi’s Fridge, they come to understand that one in six U.S. children don’t know whether they’ll eat tomorrow. And they’re inspired when they can translate that to their own neighborhoods to make a difference.

“What you hope is that this kind of experience – started early – will inspire girls to give back and to grow up and be community supporters,” says Gene, “teaching their own children to give back, too.” (By the way, Gene is a lifelong Girl Scout volunteer herself. She serves as an advisor to girls working toward their Gold Award.)

Now that’s exactly the way Girl Scouts builds courage, confidence and character. It’s exactly how we turn out women who are leaders in business and philanthropy. And it’s exactly how we’re delivering the 51% solution to our communities now and in the future. As you consider how you’ll pitch in this holiday season, I hope you’re inspired by these go-getter girls, too.

5 Things YOU CAN DO to Support Women’s Entrepreneurship

By GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler

You’re likely to read a lot about today being Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. It’s a great way to celebrate the amazing contributions women-owned businesses make to our economy.

Every day is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day for the Girl Scouts. Empowering girls to become leaders is what we’re all about. And it’s never too early to start.

A few weeks ago, I watched as kindergarten and first-grade girls begin their entrepreneurial learning journey at our Daisy Cookie College. They practiced simple skills like how to count change, budget their snack money and talk with customers. These are 5- and 6-year-old girls! And they’re already learning the five pillars of our own signature entrepreneurial training program: goal setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

I have no doubt some of these girls will reflect the trends noted in the Girl Scout Research Institute study released today. Many will be interested in becoming entrepreneurs, but three in four will come to believe their gender is a stumbling block. Although girls start out strong, they expect to experience less support for their entrepreneurial spirit as they age.

There is good news out there about the state of female entrepreneurship. There were more than twice as many women entrepreneurs in the United States last year than 20 years ago. And the stats are piling up about their success. Founders with women on their teams are performing better than all-male teams – 63% better for one venture capital firm.  And investors like Boston Consulting Group showed women in a start-up accelerator program generating exponentially more revenue than their male counterparts. Despite evidence like this, women-led startups receive just a fraction of the venture capital available.

Here are five ways you can influence this trend and make sure all girls have every opportunity to succeed when they grow up. The first four are summarized from Entrepreneur.com:

  1. Amplify women whose voices are unheard.
  2. Reach out to pull a woman up the ladder and into your circle.
  3. Leverage your social network to expand their reach.
  4. Become an angel investor or coach to open doors.

And the last idea is from me to you:

  • Support Girl Scouts. It’s the largest girl-development organization in the United States, and, as today’s study shows, it makes a measurable impact on girls’ leadership potential.

Helping girls enter the business and entrepreneurial workforce is beneficial for girls and the world. If girls are left out of the entrepreneurial space, they can suffer from long-term financial and career consequences that contribute to the leadership and wage gap between men and women. But when girls’ and women’s ideas on how to change the world are put into action, the economy gains revenue and society gains ingenuity.

Like myself, once an entrepreneur always an entrepreneur.  I know how much your support will mean to the next girl or young woman who is tempted to follow that entrepreneurial dream and make a meaningful difference for her community.

GSKSMO Troop Money Earning Guide

As you kick off your Girl Scout year, you are likely starting to brainstorm activities and events that require funds. As you start planning for these expenses, we want to remind you of a few guidelines around money earning as a troop. Before you dive in, be familiar with the 5 Steps to Money Earning as a Girl Scout Troop!

Quick Checklist:

  • Participate in Council Product Programs: Candy, Nuts & Magazine and Cookies – These are the primary money earning sources for troops across our council and across the country.
  • Assess troop needs – You will be required to indicate how you will use the funds generated by your additional money earning activity. If you are earning money for a trip, complete your travel application and receive approval prior to fundraising initiatives.
  • Brainstorm with your troop what type of additional activities you want to do to earn money – The process should be girl led and age appropriate.
  • Complete your Money Earning Application – involve your girls in completing the application and share the questions with them
  • Determine if you need to purchase additional insurance for non-members (common in babysitting fundraisers) and do so at least 2 weeks prior to event.
  • Evaluate – How did it go?  What did your girls learn? Is this an activity you would recommend to another troop? Share your ideas and experiences.  

Do’s and Don’ts:

Do: Be creative, use your skills, talk to other troops, utilize your network, get parental permission and girl buy-in, follow all local health and safety laws as well Safety Activity Checkpoints.

Don’t: Fundraise for other organizations, endorse or campaign for any public or elected official, sell or endorse commercial products, use games of chance like raffles or lotteries, or solicit money or in-kind donations directly. This includes crowd funding like GoFundMe (the only exception is Girl Scouts with approval working on a Gold Award).

For more information on Troop Money earning, refer to Troop Leader Central or communicate with your Troop Experience Manager!  

STEMMy Awards

by Joy Wheeler, CEO, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri

Women in STEMM
I can’t tell you how excited I am to watch Girl Scout Supporter Panela Leung win a STEMMy Award from the Central Exchange today. These awards celebrate the accomplishments of all women in Kansas City who are setting trends and breaking barriers in their STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine) fields.

We nominated Panela as an Enterprising Innovator in the technology field, based on her work as a go-getter and innovator helping fuel the pipeline of STEMM leaders. Her business, Generation Maker Lab, supports girls and boys, and she puts a laser focus on the engagement of girls. She volunteers her time to lead local Girl Scouts astronomy programs, expertly helping girls see the power of STEMM and how their ideas and big thoughts can be put into action. She is truly building the pipeline and showing girls what is possible by sharing about her career and community work and providing hands-on activities that capture the imagination.

Panela Leung supports our Astronomy Club Girl Scouts in creating a brand new “Reach for the Stars” mural at Camp Tongawood.

Did you know that women make up 50 percent of the college-educated workforce but hold only 24 percent of the STEMM jobs in Kansas City? In the manufacturing sector alone, the country is short 1 million workers right now, and that number is multiplying. How do we think we’re going to close that gap if we don’t harness the potential of ALL potential workers, including our future females who will enter the workforce.

Girl Scouts is how. As we prepare girls for a lifetime of leadership, we have pledged to build the STEM pipeline by 2.5 million girls by 2025. The STEM programming we provide girls from Kindergarten to age 18 is critical to keeping young girls who are interested in STEM pursuing that dream.

Just a few examples: We have dozens of badges in STEM-related categories, such as Naturalist, Digital Art, Science and Technology, Innovation and Financial Literacy. And we hold numerous community partner events, where girls get hands-on with the practical application of fields like computer programming, science, engineering and finance.

So, we send kudos to Central Exchange for recognizing local women for STEMMy leadership. And we join with them in the commitment to support The 51% Solution to our workforce challenges.

My Challenge Through Delicate Arch: Guest Post by Girl Scout Cadette Hayley S.

This summer 12 Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors & Ambassadors traveled across the country to explore the American Southwest with Girl Scout staff and volunteers. They visited five states, six National Parks, hiked 30 miles, slept at five different campsites and made countless memories and overcame obstacles. Read how Hayley overcame her own personal challenge on the trip!

June 1st through June 8th I went on a Southwest excursion where we went to national parks in each state of Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. We went on multiple hikes that had few challenges along the way but were very worth it. As we saw what I would say is some of the most beautiful sites in my life.

One of my favorite sites I got to see was at  Arches National Park, were we got the opportunity to see Delicate Arch. I was told that it was a hard hike but had the most beautiful site and so I took the challenge because not only did I want to see the site but I wanted to be able to say I made the hike. However it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be for the hike was long and was basically made up of an uphill that was huge. When we had started I was trying to motivate myself but I’m not going to lie it was kind of hard for I felt I couldn’t breathe. It made sense because I have asthma so that didn’t make things any easier, but I still really tried to make it but I just couldn’t. I got up a little of the uphill until I told myself I couldn’t do it. I had felt hopeless as I saw the other girls in the group walk up the hill because I knew they were much better than me. As I sat there watching everyone walk past a girl name Adele sat near me she also had challenges. I almost felt a little comfort because I guess it wasn’t just me that was alone facing a challenge.

My group leader M.C. was talking to me. It was pretty much small talk at first but then she started motivating me and Adele she actually believed we could do it. It was inspiring to see that she actually had belief in us.

So we decided as a small group to keep going and face every challenge not alone but together. So we set goals for ourselves as we would go to whatever we thought was a good place to stop and take a break, but with that we would go to shrubs or cracks in the canyon and name those things as we took a break. We thought it was a fun way to waste time and to my shock once I knew it we were already over the huge hill I thought was impossible to get up. I was proud of myself I was just so happy I could do it, it’s a great accomplishment to me.

We passed the other group that had gone up before us as they were going down and that’s when I finally got it realize I can do it and it’s not a matter of who’s better than who cause we all only go at our own pace. When we finally got to delicate arch I was so excited and I finally gained a little reassurance in myself. So if it wasn’t for M.C or Adele I don’t think I would of made it so I’m so glad we were all there.

This hike overall means so much to me for it was teamwork that made it work. It was so worth it because of the challenges that made it so I guess exciting and then when you finally get to your destination you feel great. I just want to thank everyone on that trip because I got to experience things beyond this world and it was amazing. I would 10/10 do this all over again cause that’s just how worth it, it was.

Our next Outdoor Excursion is to Rocky Mountain National Park from July 26 – August 1, 2020 and registration will open in October. Don’t miss the chance to overcome your own personal obstacles and feel on top of the world!

Girl Scouts: The 51% Solution

by Joy Wheeler, CEO, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri

It’s time for the Girl Scouts to put a stake in the ground. That stake marks a future where girls and women – who represent 51% of our population – become the solution to the serious workforce challenges that are weighing down our economy. A future where the gender gaps in pay, socioeconomic status, funding and power no longer exist.

You probably realize that we’re pretty far from that future right now. But I want you to know today that the Girl Scouts are driving us there. We’re preparing Kindergarten – 12th-grade girls for a lifetime of leadership and workforce impact. And we need your help to succeed. We need you to join us in Standing Up for G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders).

Imagine an equitable future
Take a few minutes and imagine with me what is possible. Picture a world where the United States is the definitive leader in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – precisely because we have learned to harness the power of all people to lead in those jobs, regardless of gender. Consider how your business could excel if you had access to a complete, well-trained and flexible pipeline of workers at all times. What would it be like if Capitol Hill, our board rooms and our leadership teams reflected the gender balance of our adult population?

Now, just think about the possibilities for our country if every child had the opportunity to succeed. What would happen if girls had the same socioeconomic, mental and physical health status as boys? And how would it affect our economy and our social programs if women received the same pay as men doing similar work?

You would like that, wouldn’t you? I mean, who wouldn’t?

We have a long way to go
There’s no disputing we are quite far from achieving that vision of the future. And it seems like we’re actually going backward right now. The U.S. can’t fill the increasing demand for STEM workers – not with men and not with women. And is it any wonder? We know that more than 80 percent of young girls are interested in STEM jobs, but only 13 percent push through the gender bias and pursue this career path. The Smithsonian estimated that 2.4 million STEM jobs would go unfilled last year.

And women are hugely under-represented in government: Around a quarter of state and federal legislators are women. Women hold only 20 percent of corporate board seats. And only 6 percent of CEOs are female.

With that level of representation, is it any wonder that the health and socioeconomic status of girls is lagging, too? Sadly, our Girl Scout research tells us more girls are living in poverty today than they were 10 years ago. And at the current rate of change, the gender pay gap – with women earning just 80 cents for every dollar made by men – isn’t expected to close for another 90 years. Fully two-thirds of minimum wage jobs in the U.S. are held by women.

Girl Scouts can get us there
Clearly, women can be the solution to these social and economic gaps. And Girl Scouts are a key contributor to the 51% solution. The Girl Scouts bring 100+ years of experience and a research-based approach to providing topnotch, innovative programming in financial literacy, STEM, healthy living, environmental stewardship and global citizenship, delivered in the way girls learn best. We are preparing girls for a lifetime of leadership – ensuring women have a voice in all settings that is commensurate with their 51% stake.

Our programs connect girls with female role models in their communities. They immerse young women in a wide variety of opportunities and experiences so they can pursue their full potential. And they challenge girls to the highest standard of achievement through the Gold Award.

The path of a young girl to teenager largely defines the path of the next generation. Will she become a pregnant teenager, leading to a lack of education, hopelessness and economic instability? Or will she become a woman who is supported and nurtured to have the courage and confidence that comes from enriched experiences and education? A woman who knows her worth and is prepared to reject domestic violence and pursue equity? By changing a girl’s confidence to pursue opportunities and reach her full potential, we decrease the demand for social and rehabilitative services. We drive more leadership for female equality, representation and inclusion. In short, we expand the potential for success among everyone in our society – all genders, all ages, all socioeconomic strata.

Single-gender learning is the right thing to do
So let’s address the elephant in the room – the Boy Scouts’ attempt to add girls to their programming. On the surface it sounds kind and equitable, right? We should allow girls to have the same experiences as boys. But let’s be real for a moment. Most of us can agree that boys and girls are different. While they deserve equitable opportunities, pursuing those together doesn’t always make sense.

Our research bears this out. Girls who attend single-gender schools have measurably higher academic success. Did you know a girl will generally lose 30 percent of her confidence between age 8 and 14? The single-gender learning environment provided by the Girl Scouts gives her a safe space to explore, step out of her comfort zone, take risks and become a leader. Her courage, confidence and character grow as she pursues outdoor adventure, entrepreneurship, STEM and civic engagement activities.

Girl Scouts are THE KEY to increasing STEM staffing and leadership
Here again, research underscores the role of the Girl Scouts in helping girls lead the way. Among female tech leaders, an astonishing 80 percent are Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts are twice as likely to be interested in STEM careers. That’s why Girl Scouting provides STEM programming to girls from kindergarten to age 18. We are committed to adding 2.5 million girls to the STEM pipeline by 2025.

Girl Scouts are more successful overall
It’s not just about STEM, though. The Girl Scouting program produces concrete outcomes in almost every measure of success. If you’re a Girl Scout: 

  • Your sense of self, community involvement and confidence in the future is going up during middle school, while your peers are declining in confidence.   
  • You are twice as likely to have a bachelor’s degree.
  • You earn 23 percent more than other women.
  • You’re more likely to engage in a variety of fun and challenging activities, have supportive relationships and be an active learner.

Adding to that, if you’re a Gold Award Girl Scout – representing five percent of the 50 million alums in the U.S. – you’re more successful, engaged and happy as a worker. And you have more positive life outcomes – measured by volunteerism, community and civic engagement, education level and socioeconomic status.

Girl Scouting fuels civic and business leadership
If you’re wondering whether Girl Scouts make a meaningful difference in achieving that future we discussed earlier, consider this: In 2018, 58 percent of women elected to Congress were Girl Scouts, and nearly three-quarters of women in the Senate are alums. Five of the current nine female state governors are Girl Scouts. And every female secretary of state has been a Girl Scout. It’s clear that Girl Scouts builds leaders who make a lasting impact on their communities.

Girl Scouts are well represented in business, too, with 66 percent of professional women and more than half of female entrepreneurs and business owners being alums. And you thought it was all about cookies!

The power of Girl Scouts goes beyond skill-building                                                              
I’d like to share a story with you that helps illustrate the tremendous impact our program can have on a girl’s life. Paige Taylor has experienced mental illness in her family and has been struggling with depression and anxiety herself since age 10. The high school senior from Lansing, Kansas, has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten. She calls her girl squad her “safe place” to share and says her sister Girl Scouts are her real sisters. The confidence Paige has gained through Girl Scouts has allowed her to achieve a level of success she otherwise wouldn’t have dreamed of. She recently completed her Gold Award, where she bravely shared her personal story, opened a door for other teens to share their stories, got school officials to acknowledge the statistics and add more resources, and stood with the Kansas governor who signed a state-wide proclamation. Paige plans to pursue sports psychology and counseling when she attends college next fall. When we asked what gave her the courage and confidence to break away from the stigma and challenges of mental illness, Paige gave Girl Scouts the credit: “Without Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I know my voice matters and I’m empowered to continue to use it as I pursue my dreams.” Now, that’s the kind of difference we can make!

Why your support is critical right now
The value of Girl Scouts and the essential role of our contributions to solving these issues is clear. Now, more than ever, we need your help – your money, your influence and your passion.

Funding: Cookie sales make the Girl Scout experience memorable. The program supports girls to grow their financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills as it builds their confidence. But how many other organizations require their beneficiaries to fund their own services by the sweat of their brows? We need your private funding, too. Based on the latest reports available, Girl Scouts received just half the private funding of Boy Scouts, while serving approximately the same number of youth.  

Influence: We’re asking you to talk about the Girl Scouts. Use your connections to bring us to the table to represent girls and all the potential they bring to EVERY discussion about workforce development, economic equality and diversity.

Daily Advocacy: We are asking you to use your power to advocate for girls and women everywhere. If you’ve participated in Girl Scouts or have Girl Scouts in your family, you ARE Girl Scouts! Yes, gentlemen, even you. Are you Man Enough to be a Girl Scout? We want you to wear the Girl Scout identity and do things like follow and share the powerful stories of our Girl Scouts locally and beyond.

The only way we’re going to bring this solution to life is by proactively championing girls and women in our everyday lives – giving them a seat at the table and Standing up for G.I.R.L.s.   Advocating isn’t enough – we need you to be their champions – when they’re in the room and when they’re not. Because there’s something missing today – that’s the other 51%. None of us is as powerful as all of us!

Leaving a Legacy for an Inspirational Leader

The Lela Mae Girl Scout Adventure Fund!

Girl Scout leaders are inspirations for the girls in their troops and create a lifetime of memories. For Karen Ebert, and all the girls in her troop, that inspirational leader was Lela Mae Knipp. Not only was Lela Mae a fantastic troop leader who pushed the girls to be the very best versions of themselves, she stayed involved in Girl Scouting for more than 60 years! Karen was a Girl Scout in the early 1960s, a time when women were not always encouraged to dream big about their careers – but Lela Mae gave them that confidence through Girl Scouting! This lasting legacy of service and supporting generations of girls inspired Karen to do something incredible – invest in the future of girls in Lela Mae’s name.

For Karen Ebert, creating a fund for Girl Scouts that will leave a legacy was the best way to honor Lela Mae. “I believe leaving a legacy is important. As a Girl Scout alum, I wanted to give back to the organization that meant so much to me,” Karen says. To honor Lela Mae’s 60 years of volunteer service, Karen set-up the Lela Mae Girl Scout Adventure Fund in 2018 at the West Region Volunteer Celebration. This fund will provide financial support to girls in Westmoreland and throughout Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee Counties so they experience incredible adventures in Girl Scouting.

As a girl, Karen remembers Lela Mae’s generosity and the courage she instilled in her. “To Lela Mae, every girl was unique and special,” Karen said. One memory Karen has of this generosity happened when she was selling cookies to raise money for camp. “I took my money from my cookie sales to Lela Mae, and she said to me ‘oh you are so close, but you are short $14.’ My heart sank and I know she saw that. Later that night, she called to say she ‘miscounted’ and I had just enough to go to camp. I will always think she had something to do with me having ‘just enough,’” Karen said.

With all these amazing memories and life skills that Karen learned from Girl Scouting, she wanted to make sure today’s girls have access to the same opportunities she did. “If people look back at the experience they have in Girl Scouting, I think they would want every girl to have that experience. As adults, I hope we all want to give to the future,” Karen said. Thank you, Karen, for investing and honoring Lela Mae!


Karen Ebert, Lela Mae Knipp and family members, Sonja Stanley, Bonnie Taylor and Melissa Phipps as they presented Girl Scouts with the check to establish the fund.

In March 2019, Lela Mae celebrated her 95th birthday, and Karen Ebert and the Knipp family created a shower of gifts to help local Girl Scouts by donating to the fund, and you can still make a gift as well! A gift of any size to the Lela Mae Girl Scout Adventure Fund in honor of her birthday can be made by via www.gsksmo.org/donate. Thank you to Karen Ebert for establishing this fund to honor an amazing Girl Scout!